One day after leaving Washington, D.C., without any promises that the federal government would extend Medicaid supplemental dollars to the state for another year, Gov. Rick Scott‘s attorneys filed an injunction in his lawsuit against the Obama administration.
On the surface the injunction is asking the court to issue a preliminary injunction or to support a writ of mandamus requiring the federal government to revoke what Scott’s attorneys call an “unconstitutional ultimatum,” or requiring Florida to expand Medicaid to ensure future Low Income Pool dollars.
If granted, though, the injunction would have the effect of forcing the government to commit Low Income Pool dollars beyond June 30, 2015.
“As a practical matter that may well mean that CMS must continue funding the LIP program beyond June 30, 2015,” Scott’s attorneys wrote, noting that beyond expanding Medicaid there are no “remaining barriers” that the state has not acknowledged and expressed a willingness to address.
Scott’s attorneys argue “there is no question that discontinuation of the LIP program” would be “extraordinary and devastating in its consequences,” they wrote. “Healthcare providers across the state rely on the program for quarterly, direct payments to compensate the critical and costly healthcare services they provide for little or no cost to uninsured, underinsured and other low-income patients ineligible for Medicaid.”
Additionally, the attorneys argue the relief Florida seeks will cause “CMS no unnecessary harm or injury.”
Scott sued the federal government in federal court in Pensacola last month alleging that the Obama Administration violated the U.S. Constitution by threatening to withhold Low Income Pool dollars if Florida did not expand Medicaid under the federal healthcare law.
Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Agency for Health Care Administration are the plaintiffs in the 22-page lawsuit. Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, are the defendants.
The Low Income Pool program is a supplemental Medicaid financing program that is made possible under an 1115 Medicaid waiver. The federal government approved the waiver for a three- year extension but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last April that it would not extend the Low Income Pool beyond June 30, 2015.
The Florida Legislature was unable to pass a budget in the 2015 regular legislative session because of discord over whether LIP dollars should be included in the budget and, if so, what amount as well as Medicaid expansion. The Senate budget is $4 billion more than the House’s budget because the Senate included both LIP and Medicaid expansion but the House didn’t include either in its budget.
Legislative leaders have tentatively agreed to have a budget special session from June 1-20.